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Jan 30
Student makes Mustang history
You don’t have to be a math whiz to know that 88 out of 5,000 are pretty long odds.  

Being the first in your school’s history to land in the finals for a prestigious national education award are even longer odds, but don’t tell that to L.A. Matheson’s Govind Deol.

Starting from a pool of over 5,000 applicants, the Grade 12 student has made it through to the final selection stages of the prestigious Loran Scholars Award, an annual award worth approximately $100,000 to go towards post-secondary education.

If he is selected as one of 36 recipients, Govind will join an exclusive club of extraordinary students from across Canada who, according to the Loran Scholars Foundation, exemplify “integrity, courage, compassion, grit and a high level of personal autonomy.” Closer to home, Govind would be joining an even more exclusive club, as there have only been four Surrey students that have received the honour since the award’s creation in 1988.

With the final part of the selection process set to take place later this week in Toronto, Govind sums up his feelings as being “nervous, but excited.”

Having come up through Surrey’s education system, Govind began looking for ways he could give back to the community that he says has given so much to him.

Govind Portrait.jpg“In Grade 10, I started my own basketball program at my old elementary school, Prince Charles,” he recalls. “My brother was still going to that school and said there weren’t a lot of basketball programs — just one season that lasted only two months.

“So me and a friend, we contacted one of the teachers there, got permission from the principal, and started a basketball program to take place before the season so kids could train. The first year we did it, the kids ended up winning their play day, so that was pretty cool to see.”

In addition to the basketball program, Govind also helps run a program at L.A. Matheson called Camp Next, which helps to keep youths away from negative influences during the summer months while school is out.

“The first year there were 60 kids that showed up, but last year we were closer to 300, so it was nice to see it grow like that.”

On top of the school programs, Govind also volunteers his time outside of school at a seniors’ home, the Surrey Crime Prevention Society and the Sikhi Awareness Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing education to the less fortunate in countries like India and Nepal.

As if all that leadership and volunteer work wasn’t enough, Govind also maintains at least an 85% mark average — another requirement for eligibility in the Loran Scholars Award program.

While most adults would find such a schedule grueling, Govind’s teacher and scholarship advisor Devinder Deol (no relation) isn’t surprised that his student has so many irons in the fire.

“I first started working with Govind in Grade 10 and even then you could tell he had a drive, but he wasn’t quite sure where it would take him,” explains Deol. “What I’ve noticed with him is that the volunteer work he’s doing and his commitment to academics, it helps him realize that what he’s doing is valued, and that’s a message that doesn’t always get out.”

For Deol, Govind’s story is just the latest example of the good work being done at L.A. Matheson and the surrounding community, and it’s these kinds of stories that don’t always make headlines.

“If you listen to the stories the kids here at the school are hearing, nobody is trying to remind these people that for every person that’s gone down the wrong path, there are hundreds if not thousands that have made a positive impact.

“Govind walks the walk, he’s doing the work, he’s done the work and now he has a chance to be recognized for it.”


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